The north magnetic pole just changed. Here’s what that means.

Magnetic north’s routine plod has shifted into high gear, sending it galloping across the Northern Hemisphere—and no one can entirely explain why.

The changes have been so large that scientists began working on an emergency update for the World Magnetic Model, the mathematical system that lays the foundations for navigation, from cell phones and ships to commercial airlines.

…“Things are acting very strangely at high latitude,” says Livermore, who notes that this increase seemed to coincide with a strengthening jet in the planet’s liquid outer core. Though the events could be linked, it’s not yet possible to say for sure.

… The north magnetic pole seems to be controlled by two patches of magnetic field, he explains, one under northern Canada and one under Siberia. Historically, the one under northern Canada seems to have been stronger, keeping the magnetic pole in its clutches. But recently, that seems to have changed.

“The Siberian patch looks like it’s winning the battle,” he says. “It’s sort of pulling the magnetic field all the way across to its side of the geographic pole.”

…This may be a result of a jet within the core smearing and thus weakening the magnetic field under Canada, he says. The jet’s increase in speed seems to have coincided with the last few decades of the magnetic pole zipping north.

The north magnetic pole just changed. Here’s what that means.

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